If you’re planning to live here…

Posted on May 28th, 2010 3 great comments. Room for one more!

In the past few days anyone stepping off a plane for the first time at Pearson or City Centre Airport probably got a bit of a rude awakening to the real Toronto.

I do my best to try to warn people that, no really, it gets pretty fucking hot here in the summers, but usually I just get an incredulous expression in response. When I compare recent Toronto temperatures (31 Celcius  / 88 Fahrenheit) to, say, The Bahamas (30 Celcius / 86 Fahrenheit), they just kind of look at me funny, like maybe I’ve been spending too much time in the igloo or something.

It’s a bit warm for May, granted, but not by much.

“Yeah, but it’s not a humid heat like they get on the islands”, is often the next follow-up. Once again, spoken by someone who hasn’t been to Toronto in the summer. No, it really is. It can get as soupy here as it does in Hong Kong or Jamaica. I mean, did you ever wonder how south Asians, East Indians, West Indians, and people from similar countries could manage to live in Toronto if it’s some dreary northern podunk town? That’s because it’s not so foreign to them. In the winter they’re usually a miserable bunch, but in the summer they’re right at home. Right from the horse’s mouth that.

yonge-dundas square, free events, bollywood, film, movie, toronto, city, life

As you can see, the wise people of Yonge-Dundas Square prudently decided to air Bollywood films a couple of nights ago as part of their free summer events. Open air, foreign language, spicy food, crowd, heat, humidity – it was as perfect as could be hoped for. The fact that it was conveniently in the middle of town helped too. :)

Unlike many more southerly cities, however, Toronto goes well below the freezing mark every winter, and as every good Canadian knows, frozen water can be very damaging. It warms and gets into every crevice, then it freezes and makes that crevice much worse. Stones can sometimes literally be split in two, and every spring during the thaw, trees and sides of buildings tend to come down.

As a stout Torontonian you must be prepared to deal with tropical heat, arctic blasts, and all manner of inclement weather in between. In the summer you’re dealing with humidity and heat, in the winter it’s the cold and dryness. In that way, there’s a little flavour there for everyone.

food vendor, yonge-dundas square, toronto, city, life

But hey, if you can’t take it you can always move to a more temperate place like Vancouver. Wimp!

So yeah, I think that Toronto owes much of its ethnic flavour to the weather. Everyone has a favourite season, a month or two in which they delight in the weather. No matter how you like it, you’ll get a good dose of it. And everyone has their dark days too, when hibernation would really come in handy.

yonge-dundas square, food, vendors, east indian, roti, toronto, city, life

But in order to be an attractive metropolis to people from all over the world, as we seem to be, our weather needs to also be imported from the edges of the world, as would also seem to be the case.

You know that old illustration that cartographers used to indicate oceanic winds? You know, the old dude with a billowing beard, puffed out cheeks, and a swirl of wind emanating from his puckered lips. That would be, like, the Indian Ocean trade wind, or something?

I think that guy, crossed with an equally antique compass illustration, would make a fine flag for the city of Toronto. There’s really no way to make it less misogynist apart from appending breasts – just smack ‘em on there – so I say don’t worry about it. Plus, if we can find an old illustration with a chick wind, why not? Basically, be aware that while under this flag, you may suddenly find yourself anywhere in the world in a pretty authentic way.

chinatown, shop, store, soya sauce, aisle, toronto, city, life

It’s mostly to imply that what you get here is not only the culture of your homeland but also the climate, whether you happened to have lived in unbelievably hot Indonesia or desolately frigid nothern Russia. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but more comfortable. At least for a time.

But anyone who decides to stay here for more than a couple of weeks has to be prepared for a journey of discovery that can sometimes be a little more extreme than they could’ve imagined. More than one Vancouverite I’ve known were aghast when confronted with a Toronto November, a cold winter back home. They were both equally horrified when told that it gets much worse than that. Calgarians laugh at our inability to deal with snow (and they’re probably right to do so), but more than one of them has expressed surprise at the amount of snow we sometimes get.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to figure out a way to capture atmosphere in photos. I look at some of the old stuff on TCL and remember quite vividly how hot and intense Caribana really was, for example. Proper weather for a festival like that, I’m sure everyone agreed. But aside from the skimpy outfits, you can’t really see the waves of heat rising from the road or see what it’s doing to the poor black albino dude standing at the side watching, partying, melting. Ouch.

Anyhow, wear layers (all weather), and carry a sturdy umbrella. That’s the best I can tell ya. And welcome to Toronto!

3 Comments on “ If you’re planning to live here… ”

  • Grace
    May 28th, 2010 9:48 am

    Would you please put a "Home" button/link? I will read through a bunch of posts at one time and the "go to top" button only takes me to the top of that post. If I want to go to the most current post I either have to use my back arrow or access the blog from scratch (so to speak) in a new tab.

    Or do you have it hidden somewhere I haven't found it?


    Read more from Grace at:
  • Grace
    May 28th, 2010 9:50 am

    Nevermind – I just discovered that if I click on the blog title in your header I get to the "home" page.


    Read more from Grace at:
  • Patrick
    May 29th, 2010 7:22 am

    Haha! No problem, Grace. But this design will be replaced in the not too distant future and I'll build more "Home" buttons into it. :)


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